Classics @ Oriel, Oxford in 2016

Interview format

2x 30 min interviews, 1 day apart

Interview content

Interview 1: poem given beforehand, personal statement; Interview 2: word/philosophy problems, image analysis

Best preparation

Specimen papers online, translations

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

Put time and thought into personal statement.

Remember this advice isn't official. There is no guarantee it will reflect your experience because university applications can change between years. Check the official Cambridge and Oxford websites for more accurate information on this year's application format and the required tests.

Also, someone else's experience may not reflect your own. Most interviews are more like conversations than tests and like, any conversation, they are quite interactive.

Interview Format

Test taken: CAT

Number of interviews: 2

Skype interview: No

Time between each interview: 1 day

Length of interviews: 30 minutes each

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

In the first interview, I was asked to discuss a poem given to me 20 minutes before (in English). Then, we mostly discussed my personal statement - they asked me to expand further on things I’d said. The focus was on literature.

In the second interview, I was given some word/philosophical problems to look at beforehand and discuss. Then, for the ancient history aspect, I was asked to try to sort pictures of coins into chronological order and explain my reasoning.

The atmosphere was relaxed and informal. We were sat on sofas. It felt like a chat and was a two-way thing rather than like a job interview.

How did you prepare?

I tried the specimen papers on the website and did some Latin and Greek translations.

What advice do you have for future applicants?

Looking back, what advice would you give to your past self?

I found for classics the best thing is to put time and thought into your personal statement - you will then be able to expand further/have evidence for your interest in the subject.

Also, don’t stress too much as it really is an interesting conversation - there aren’t ‘right’ answers; it’s more their curiosity about the way you think and approach questions.

In terms of help/resources, my teachers at school were the main help, I had a couple of practice interviews with them, which was useful.